Message from Shea Gopaul, GAN Founder & Executive Director & Roberto Suárez Santos, IOE Secretary-General
With 2018 coming to a close, we reflect on our collective past achievements, while assessing what we still need to accomplish jointly. Although we remain a small Secretariat in Geneva, our achievements this year, thanks to our dedicated members and partners, are quite remarkable. The inspiring stories and experiences of our various GAN Networks on the ground, partners and staff members are highlighted in the GAN 2018 Annual Report. With partners representing business and employer organisations, the private sector, governments, and international organisations – together, we work as a whole. We are proud of our collective successes, achieved through one united voice representing the apprenticeship and skills community.
2018 is a year that particularly resonates for us, as it marks five years since the GAN’s birth and five years of leveraging partnerships with the IOE. Born as a call to action on youth unemployment by the G20 countries and B20 leaders, the GAN was established in 2013 as an initiative coordinated by the IOE and Business at OECD (BIAC), with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Five years down the road, the GAN now has 14 networks across four continents, and 244 members worldwide. This is largely due to the individual contributions and commitments that our business and employer organisation members have driven in-country.
This year, we launched four GAN Networks in Namibia, Belgium, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Aside from working with business and employer organisations in these four countries, we are also leveraging resources and partnerships with companies, as is the case in Belgium, with The Adecco Group leading the way for a more fluid school-to-work transition and ramping up efforts for digital skilling. This is a huge milestone for us, as it is proof that companies are beginning to view apprenticeship and work-based learning programmes as a necessary investment, and not a cost.
In Sri Lanka, we are leveraging partnerships with the ILO, local universities and businesses, and in Bangladesh, this network is being led by the Prime Minister’s Office, with the aim to widen apprenticeship in non-traditional sectors and increase offerings by 50% in the formal sector. We set the motions for our fourth African GAN Network in Kenya, with a kick-off meeting earlier this year to officially launch in 2019. As a US Department of Labor (DOL) supported network, we will work closely with the ILO to focus on promoting apprenticeship as a path to youth employment, targeting vulnerable groups.
And yet there is room to aim higher for the next five years with more GAN Networks to be launched in Kenya, Australia and Guatemala. Together, we will continue to develop strategic partnerships and raise resources for business and employer organisations to support its GAN Networks, to promote skills for business and jobs for all. We will continue to work hard, with the GAN Networks remaining our core focus.
Five years ago, we were founded on the basis that apprenticeship and work-based learning programmes are powerful solutions to reduce youth unemployment and skills mismatch. However, the biggest barrier remains to be the low social status associated with apprenticeship. Therefore, for the years to come, advocacy to remove the stigma will remain a large part of the GAN’s work.
Our hallmark activity this year was the official launch of the GAN’s global campaign on #SkillingNow. Through this campaign, we have brought together our GAN Networks and member companies, international organizations. They assisted us in curating the content and activities. We focussed on raising awareness and the power of partnerships and apprenticeship at the various workshops during the GB and ILC. A playbook outlining how GAN Networks and member companies can participate was launched around the G20/B20 in Argentina. We had a aside event where we launched the playbook at a GAN Argentina event and shared some best practices of our partner Proyecto NOEMÍ. The kick-off for the campaign in 2019 will begin in Costa Rica.